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House Of The Dragon Star Emma D'Arcy Struggled To Film Rhaenyra's Episode 10 Birth Scene

"House of the Dragon" is no stranger to traumatic births. In the very first episode of the HBO series, Queen Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke) succumbs to complications of a bloody rudimentary C-section. That's not to mention the visceral, mesmerizing introduction viewers have to Emma D'Arcy, who graphically portrays a birth in their first few minutes as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Perhaps it's not a surprise, then, that the series continues this motif in Episode 10, with Rhaenyra enduring yet another birth — though this time a particularly tragic and disturbing one.

In "The Black Queen," upon hearing the news that her father has died and that the Hightowers have stolen her place on the Iron Throne, Rhaenyra goes into premature labor. What follows is a gory, brutal showing of single-minded determination. Rhaenyra delivers the baby herself, pushing herself through the process despite her obvious pain and suffering. But the baby emerges stillborn, and Rhaenyra ends up heartbroken with her daughter lying lifeless in her hands. 

Shortly after the scene aired, numerous fans took to Twitter to voice their concerns about it, suggesting that "House of the Dragon" was too fixated on traumatic births (via New York Post). So perhaps it's not a surprise that D'Arcy too admits that the scene was one of their most challenging scenes to film in the series.

D'Arcy admits the birth scene was physically demanding

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Emma D'Arcy discussed the mindset during Princess Rhaenyra's bloody birth scene in "The Black Queen." In addition to calling the scene physically demanding, D'Arcy explained that they had tried to draw out various truths about their character.

"I think in that birth scene, my feeling was that for a character who has had such a complex relationship with how her gender allows her to relate to the world, it's like she's suddenly given a choice to be a king or to be a mother and maybe neither, or maybe both," D'Arcy said. "Trying to tell a narrative throughline while also doing something that's physically demanding ... it's just challenging, and you don't know if it comes off, really, until you see it onscreen."

D'Arcy also mentioned that it was difficult to portray a second major birth after already undergoing a particularly memorable one in her first appearance on the show. The actor suggested that it had been important to differentiate the approach to both births. However, if fan reactions to the birth are any indication, D'Arcy clearly succeeded. That said, Princess Rhaenyra likely won't be focusing on giving birth to any more children after the "House of the Dragon" Season 1 finale, in which she appears to set her mind singularly on avenging the death of her son Luke. In fact, this mission might prove more important to her than being, well, a king or a mother.